Fort Walton Beach also has a Bowlegs 5K, the Bowlegs Midnight Run. It's run at 10:00 pm instead of midnight and is named for British adventurer William Bowles, who was never called Billy Bowlegs during his lifetime (at least to his face).
The historical accuracy of Tallahassee’s race is due to Dr. Leitch Wright, a Florida State University history professor, who established Tallahassee's Bowlegs 5K in 1985. After Dr. Wright's tragic and untimely death, FSU College of Business professors Bill Hillison and Larry Giunipero took over direction of the race. Perhaps their own background gives them an appreciation for the financial accumen with which Billy Bowlegs and his adversaries settled the Seminole Wars.
The Bowlegs 5K was originally staged on FSU's main campus. In the 1990s the race was moved to its present course in Innovation Park, starting and finishing near the FAMU/FSU College of Engineering. Although never a large race, some fast runners have appeared in the Bowlegs 5K over the years. Looking through the past winners of the race, you can spot high school cross country state champions Matt Mizereck (the 2007 Bowlegs winner) and Carly Thomas (2008). Florida State track alumna Darien Andreu won the first Bowlegs women's title in 1985, and FSU track alumnus Thomas Kunish won it all in 2002. Perhaps the most impressive performance in the Bowlegs 5K over the years is the 16:54 course record, run by Irish Olympian Breeda Dennehy-Willis in 1999. That's not the fastest road 5K ever run by a woman in Tallahassee (Dennehy-Willis herself ran 16:31 at the Palace Saloon 5K in 2005) but it probably makes the top ten list.
Fast or slow, the runners will be lining up on Pottsdamer Street next Saturday. Their numbers may depend on the weather. Less than a hundred runners showed up for a frigid and dreary Bowlegs in 2010, while a sunny and mild morning brought more than 200 out to the race in 2011. Whatever the outcome or the attendance, another year of Tallahassee road racing will be under way.
[ Originally published in the 31 December 2011 issue of the Tallahassee Democrat. ]
|Billy Bowlegs 5K, 1985-2011|
|16 FEB 1985||16:44, Scott Hinkle||18:48, Darien Andreu||153|
|15 FEB 1986||16:12, Rick Miller||20:00, Janice Hochstein||150|
| 7 FEB 1987||15:54, Randy Jordan||20:00, Sarah Patterson||186|
|13 FEB 1988||16:05, Rick Miller||20:02, Janice Hochstein||220|
| 4 FEB 1989||15:44, Rick Miller||20:02, Barbara Balzer||165|
|10 FEB 1990||17:28, Felton Wright||19:30, Paula Johnson||112|
|16 FEB 1991||16:15, Bill Crooks||20:37, Tina Davies||67|
|15 FEB 1992||15:51, Mike Macinko||18:37, Paula Johnson||81|
|20 FEB 1993||15:33, Gary Droze||19:33, Carrie Hunnicutt||143|
|19 FEB 1994||16:02, Phillip Healy||22:18, Chateau Mangaroo||83|
|18 FEB 1995||15:41, Reid Montini||18:09, Jane Johnson||158|
|17 FEB 1996||16:12, Tim Simpkins||19:33, Janice Hochstein||77|
|15 FEB 1997||15:45, Gary Droze||18:20, Jane Johnson||163|
|14 FEB 1998||16:23, Damian Wilson||17:47, Sarah Docter-Williams||104|
|13 FEB 1999||15:57, Robert Pautenius||16:54, Breeda Dennehy-Willis||77|
|12 FEB 2000||15:49, Aaron Scheer||20:42, Laurel Slyck||83|
|10 FEB 2001||16:48, Gary Droze||18:18, Sarah Docter-Williams|
| 9 FEB 2002||16:20, Thomas Kunish||20:20, Allison Eagen||77|
| 8 FEB 2003||16:56, Paul Orfield||21:15, Fran McLean||76|
|21 FEB 2004||17:06 Adam David Churchill||18:21, Breeda Dennehy-Willis||82|
|15 JAN 2005||17:42, Art Remillard||18:10, Sarah Docter-Williams||72|
|14 JAN 2006||16:43, Shawn Patterson||19:22, Stephanie Liles||152|
|20 JAN 2007||17:37, Matt Mizereck||19:02, Sheryl Rosen||109|
|19 JAN 2008||16:32, Tripp Southerland||21:39, Carly Thomas||121|
|10 JAN 2009||17:59, Tim Unger||20:09, Micah Adriani||117|
|9 JAN 2010||17:21, Stephen Cox||21:01, Lauren Switzer||84|
|8 JAN 2011||16:38, Vince Molosky||19:26, Sheryl Rosen||204|
- 2011 Bowlegs, "Molosky and Rosen start 2011 racing right at Bowlegs 5K"
- 2010 story, "Cox and Switzer winners at a chilly Bowlegs 5K"
- USATF course certification map, Bowlegs 5K Run For Scholarship
- Looking for your next road race in the Tallahassee region? Try here!